Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most cases of flu, including H1N1 flu, require only symptom relief. If you have a chronic respiratory disease, your doctor may prescribe additional medications to help relieve your symptoms.

The antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are sometimes prescribed within the first day or two of symptoms to reduce the severity of your symptoms, and possibly the risk of complications. But, flu viruses can develop resistance to these drugs.

To make development of resistance less likely and maintain supplies of these drugs for those who need them most, antivirals are reserved for people at high risk of complications.

High-risk groups are those who:

  • Are in a hospital, nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • Are younger than 5 years of age, particularly children younger than 2 years
  • Are 65 years and older
  • Are pregnant or within two weeks of delivery, including women who have had pregnancy loss
  • Are younger than 19 years of age and are receiving long-term aspirin therapy, because of an increased risk of developing Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease that can occur when using aspirin during a viral illness
  • Are morbidly obese, defined as having a body mass index above 40
  • Have certain chronic medical conditions, including asthma, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, neuromuscular disease, or kidney, liver or blood disease
  • Are immunosuppressed due to certain medications or HIV
  • Are American Indians or Native Alaskans
Aug. 13, 2015